In the early days these prairies swarmed with buffalo, and in riding over the Plains one may yet see scores of old buffalo wallows in the depressions. The early settlers found antelope and wolves, but these have disappeared. Coyotes are plentiful, and a chase with a pack of hounds is an experience never to be forgotten. Prairie chickens, sage hens, and grouse abound and may be shot from August 20 to October 1. Quail are also quite plentiful, but there is no open season for hunting them. Wild ducks in great numbers come in the fall and spring and feed on the river and adjacent lakes. They may be shot from September 10 to April 15.
Wray boasts an enterprising hunting club which has leased a number of the better ponds. For three years the hunters of the town have appointed captains who choose sides for a rabbit hunt. Each jack rabbit killed counts ten points, and each cottontail twenty points. The losing side entertains the winners at a banquet. Thirty hunters took part in the contest this year. The annual banquet was held on February 7, 1907, at Shield's hotel.
Good fishing is found in the lakes and streams. There are seven fish hatcheries in the state, which "plant" in the public streams in all sections of the country approximately 15 million trout a year. Trout are plentiful in Chief Creek and the Republican. They are the rainbow, speckled trout, and salmon. C. C. McGinnis of Wray caught one trout last year which dressed weighed slightly over three pounds, but this size is not seen often.
Curator Will C. Ferril and Mr. Horace C. Smith, Museum Assistant, of the State Historical and Natural History Society of Colorado, have made several visits to Yuma county collecting birds, mammals, wild flowers, reptiles, etc., for the museum in the State House at Denver. The ornithological collection of the county has been catalogued by Mr. Smith, and is the largest and most complete in the State, near the Kansas line, and contains many rare Colorado birds. Among other specimens is a Baltimore oriole with nest and eggs; also specimens of the orchard oriole, the bell vireo, the Western blue grosbeak, the blue jay, and dickcissel. A species of the hairy woodpecker is found here. One can not ride far on the prairies without hearing the clear note of the meadow lark, and visitors from Dixie will stop at the sweet strains of an old friend, and "listen to the mocking bird."
Colorado has long been known as a national sanitarium for the sick. Frequently the writer has seen robust men describing their former ailments, and the question is not uncommon, "What was your disease?" The altitude at Wray is 3,600 feet -- scarcely high enough to affect any but the most sensitive, and yet high enough to give a dry, crisp, exhilarating atmosphere. There is but very little snowfall and often for weeks at a time one lives with open doors and windows. The reports show about three hundred days of sunshine.
The following statement is taken from a report furnished by F. H. Brandenburg, District Forecaster, U. S. Weather Bureau for the Denver Chamber of Commerce:
"Discarding fractions of a degree, the mean annual temperature at Denver is 50 degrees, as against 48 at Chicago, 49 at Boston, 55 at Washington, 56 at St. Louis, and 69 at Jacksonville. During the last thirty-two years 100 degrees or higher has been touched just thirteen times in Denver-seven times in July and six in August. While these high temperatures were maintained only for a few minutes, readings in the 90'S are common during every summer month. For July, the warmest month, the average temperature is 72 degrees, and the average daily maximum, or afternoon reading, is 87 degrees. Pretty high, it is true, but, on the other hand, the average minimum, or night temperature for July is 59 degrees, which all will agree is very comfortable for midsummer.
"The average relative humidity is slightly below 50 per cent. It is highest in February, 55 per cent, and lowest in June, which has an average of 46 percent. Twice during my residence of twenty-one years in the State have observed a humidity as low as 1/2 percent. The annual relative humidity at St. Louis is 70 per cent, Boston 72, Washington 73, Chicago 77, and Jacksonville 80, and for the warmer months-June, July, August, and September-at St. Louis 66 per cent, Chicago and Boston 74, Washington 76, and Jacksonville 82. It will be observed that in the Atlantic states the humidity during the warm mouths is greater than the annual, just the reverse of that which obtains at Denver.
"In brief, our summers are characterized by warm days and cool nights, the heat of the day not attended by the usual debilitating effects; our winters by an abundance of sunshine, and the general absence of snow and of severe and long continued cold."
The roads both winter and summer are fine, and mud is almost unknown. Two drawbacks to the climate impress the stranger, particularly if he arrives in the spring of the year. One is the prevalence of winds, which though strong, never do any damage. No souvenir of Wray would be complete without the following classic, in reference to the winds:
A dapper stranger, stepping one day from the Continental Express for a look about, while the engine was taking coal, happened to meet a gale of wind, blowing freshly across the prairies. Holding carefully on to his hat with one hand and clinging to his flying coat with the other, he approached our townsman, Jacob Cox, with the inquiry, "Does it always blow here this way?" "No," was Uncle Jake's reply, "it sometimes blows the other way."
A second drawback is an occasional dust storm, which lasts sometimes several hours.
The nights in Colorado are uniformly cool, and needless to say that the days filled with sunshine are most delightful.
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